tv Charlie Rose PBS August 25, 2015 12:00am-1:01am PDT
>> rose: welcome to the program, a look back at some of my favorite moments. tonight in our encore presentation we look at three plays, "hamilton" "the iceman cometh" and "slylight". >> the story of our country's founding is an extraordinary one and to tell it from the perspective of the guy who wasn't born here i think is an-- was my way in, having my parents are both born in the caribbean, both born in puerto rico and came here. may dad came the same age at hamilton speaking not a word of english and you experience a country differently when you come here at a certain age, and that's our way into the story. >> arthur miller who i was privileged to work with, we talked about the differences between a lot of these playwrights and he always said that o'neill was the deepest diver. and that he wasn't
interested in-- he was interested in the soul. >> i never read "slylight" and i started reading it. and i read about ten pages and i thought i hope the rest of it is this good. i hope it doesn't get bad. and it just kept getting better and better and better and by the end i was in heaven. >> rose: a look back at the year in theater when we continue. >> funding for charlie rose is provided by american >> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by: >> rose: additional funding provided by: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose.
>> i'm past patiently waiting ♪ ♪ passing and smashing ef reexpectation ♪ ♪ every creation. laughing in the face of casualties ♪ ♪ i'm thinking past tomorrow ♪ ♪ i'm not going to waste my shot ♪ ♪ i'm not going to waste my shot ♪ ♪ ♪ i'm not go throwing away my shot ♪ ♪ because we going to rise up ♪ ♪ we going to rise up, rise up ♪ ♪ time to take a shot ♪ rise up, rise up ♪ time to take a shot ♪ time to take a shot ♪ take a shot ♪ time to take a shot time to take a shot ♪ ♪ i'm not throwing away my shot ♪ ♪ not throwing away my shot ♪ ♪off. >> rose: lesley odom, jr. is here. what brought you to hamilton. e best jobs you get inat this career, in this business you didn't audition
for. you have no idea how you got there. so i just asked tommy last week, cuz i have this superstition, sometimes if i get a straight offer i don't want to kind of ask how it came about. >> rose: tommy being the director. >> the director, yeah. i don't want to ask how it came about because i'm afraid they might realize, you know, why did we ask this guy. so i got invited about two years to do a reading of the show. and i had seen it at vasser. i had seen them do about a half an hour of the show at music stands. maybe 45 minutes. and was blown away, so when i was invited to do the reading, i prepared like i've never prepared before. i mean i came in. i knew all my music. because i knew what they were working on. >> rose: you knew it had powerful potential. >> i mean yeah, i knew how it affected me, you know. and you know, lin is only a-year-older than i am. so this is our music. you know, i recognized the
rhythms and the sink passion and the -- the i-of-syncopati, o n and the pulse of the piece t has been in my ears since i was born. >> rose: people wondered when hip hip-- hip-hop what come to broadway because rock had come to broadway. >> yeah. an lin was so influential with that too." in the heights "happening and being such a watershed moment for hip-hop music and for also latin american actors. i remember listening to in the heights on-- i listened to it before i saw it. and there was something about, i have chills thinking about it i told him and lac as one of the first rehearsals, there was something about from the first moments of that album. i mean the need to communicate is something that has always moved me greatly. i remember i saw a show when i was a teenager called deaf poetry jam. and the way those people came out and just they
needed you to get it. you know, they put something, there is blood in the pen. they put something down on paper and they have-- there was an urgenessee and a fire in their belly for you to get it. it came full circle when i was listening to a rehearsal of us and hamilton listening back, just learning my part. i said we sound like that. we sound-- i can hear that need in what we're doing. >> rose: i hear all that you -- all the need, all the desire, all the energy, all the preparation to do justice to the text that you were given. how much of it was important to know aaron burr? >> very. >> rose: because you not only play a character, you play the narrator. you were there at every moment hamilton has a larger role but burr is also the continuity. >> one of my favorite gifts
that people give sometimes, fans will bring us books that they will find on articles, they'll find on ebay. i will say the name steve and ronda hawthorne have given me more than anybody, right. they come by with these articles that they order and books that they order. and those have helped me a lot because i would not call myself a historian by any means. i mean lin at this point is. lin has read enough about all of the different people and the events surrounding it that he's been able to come up with his own opinion on the events. cuz i think that's what makes it historian. you read ron chernow's become and that is the only opinion you have if you haven't read anything else. i have read enough on burr now to come up with my own theories and may own-- . >> rose: because there are different opinions on aaron burr. >> yeah. >> rose: some good, some bad. >> and then i also, at the end of the day, the text in the show was my bible. right. i have to play what lin wrote and lin has-- .
>> rose: but you have to pour into what he's written what you know and what you've experienced and what you feel. >> and what i-- and what i believe, you know, as far as what my job is as a performer. you know, that's another one of those things that this is intersected. it's come at the right point that i'm ready to-- there's a certain amount of vulnerability that this show requires of me that i was not ready to embrace at any other moment in my life. there's a certain amount of honesty that if i'm doing my job right, i bring to the stage every night. and that is you know, that comes with time. >> rose: this play hamilton, this musical, people are talking about it as changing the american musical theater. >> you know, i'm a spiritual guy too, you know, this work is, you know, its emotional, physical, there's a spiritual component for me too.
and i just-- i, cuz i seen it from the inside, charlie. and i will tell you, there's a great deal of it that those guys, andy, lac, tommy, lin have planned within an inch of its life. i mean those guys are meticulous and you know, we were so happy it opened because it forced them to put their pencils down. they will keep perfecting it until somebody forces them. but there's also-- there's the part that they had nothing to do with. there is something else-- . >> rose: and what is that? >> it's whatever happens, it's the space in between you and i. it's whatever happens between me saying it on stage and how it affects you. and what it does to you. that's the part that none of us have any control over. none. you couldn't pay jimmy fallon to go see-- to go see our show and talk about our show the way he did the next night.
you can't pay for that. i hope that the audience comes and feels lake their presence is vital. >> rose: earlier we had talk toed writer, composer and star of hamilton lin manuel miranda and its director thomas kail. they joined me in april and here's a look at that conversation. >> you sit in a room for six years making somethingment and you have the wildest dream's version of how you think a show will be received. and we're experiencing that. so we are just trying to hang on while we can. i started writing this in 2008 while i was still in my show, in the heights. i was on vacation, my first vacation from the show and i picked up ron chernow's book at random at borders just knowing that-- . >> rose: you went up and said i will take this one. >> it had great reviews in the back. i knew he died in a dual and so i knew it would have a bang ending. and fell in love with the story, really, that, the dic- ensian nature almost from the second chapper.
>> rose: at the point you say dickens, dickens and dickens, what was the dickensian aspect of his life. >> alexander hamilton was born in neves, possibly out of wed lock. he was-- his father split by the time he was ten years old. his mother died in bed with him a few short years later. his brother was apprenticed so-- to a black smith so he was by himself. he got sent to live with a cousin after his mother's death, the cousin killed himself and he bot put in charge of a trading charger, he was a clerk for a company that traded sugar cane, the key point of the triangle trade in st. croiss. and he wrote his way off the island. there was a hurricane that had ravaged st-croix and he wrote a poem about it describing the carnage saying that he saw sights that would strike astonishment into angels. this poem was used for relief efforts for the island and people took up a fund to get him an education
>> rose: so here we have a character, a great american. we know there's drama that he died at the end of a duel. in which he may not have, in fact, fired his gun. >> lots of differing opinions on that. >> rose: speculation, all right. so here we have that story. but you translated it into so much more. tell me about the ideas that you wanted to pour into this to make it a new look at the founding fathers, the american experience, and a different way of presenting -- presenting it that would appeal to young people because you're peopled by young actors. >> well, you know-- i mean you speak to what we were really conscious of which is how do we eliminate any distance between our story and now. we know that the story was going to be set thenment but we knew it would sound like now. and we knew that fundamentally this was a country that was founded and created by immigrants. somebody, somebody in all of our lines stepped off a boat or some former
transportation put their foot down on this soil and went to work. and so as we started thinking about taking the inspiration from ron's book, we thought okay, here are a lot of events but we have to tell a story. so we had all of the events laid out. we sort of both read the book and made our own time lines. then we would compare. this really spoke to me. this moment feels like it's essential. so then he you have those things to build around it just became so apparent early on as we were really designing how the show could function that this idea of doubling characters, for instance, felt really right on. that the character who played la fayette, one of his great friends. >> also plays jefferson. >> they both have this connection to france. they both have this relationship, one antagonistic, one supportive. so how can we make the audience feel like who they are and what they understand is actually not so different from what these people were struggling with. >> rose: hip-hop seems like a genius stroke now but that's what you knew. >> that's the first thing i checked, by the way.
so i read two chapters of this book and i go someone's already done a hip-hop version of this. because it felt to me the quintessential hip-hop narrative. this is someone who grew up in hard times and wrote his way out of his circumstances. wrote his way towards a better life. and that is the hip-hop narrative from the south bronx in the '70s to today. and so i googled hamilton hip-hop musical. >> rose: and it was not there. >> it was not there am and so thank god, now you google it you will see my show. but that was the first thing that jumped out at me was this is a fundamental hip-hop story. >> rose: the lyrics go i am just like my country, i'm young, scrappy and hungry, and i'm not throwing away my shot. >> charlie rose is rapping. i hope we're rolling. >> rose: we're rolling on everything. but you perform that at the white house. >> yeah. i performed the opening number at the white house, actually, the alexander hamilton, the opening number
of the show, yeah. >> rose: before we see that, is that what the president responded to when he said quitener should see this. >> yeah. yeah. i told-- i told the a essentialed audience this was my first time performing the song in public. i, they had asked me to perform something from in the heights and i said i have 16 bars about the first treasury secretary and they allowed me to close out the show with that. and his response was somebody got to get geithner in here because you know-- . >> rose: he thought of geithner as hamilton or what? >> he had a quote at that time because the economic crisis had just, everything had just blown up. and he said geithner's got the hardest job as treasury secretary since alexander hamilton. i think that was his quote on the record about what geithner had ahead of him. and this is very early in obama's administration. we performed in may of 2009. so you know, they were just figuring out how to do this thing. how to get us out of the hole we were in.
so i think he was tickled by the fact that i had made a treasury secretary sing. and he wanted to show the treasury secretary. >> and that song was from burr's perspective point. so he also performed it from burr's point of view. so it got a laugh about halfway through. >> rose: where did that idea come, burr, aaron burr's perspective? >> well, honestly, i look to musical theater history. we have a great tradition thanks to andrew lloyd-webber of the antagonist narrating the story. judas far rates jesus christ superstar. that was immediately where i went. and that set up a very difficult task for me of figuring out who aaron burr is, who is as we say in the show, a villain in our history. he is known as the guy who shot-- . >> rose: you think more of him. >> i do after learning a lot about his life. and i have to find my way in because there are a lot of biographies of burr, there are several. >> rose: gore wrote a historical fiction novel. his burr is a lot craftier than mine.
but one of the things i learned about burr was he is an early feminist. his daughter received an education greater than any man of that era. he was very close with his wife and with his daughter. he was as-- he was on the-- mission society with alexander hamilton for the abolition of slaves in new york city, in new york state. and so there are redeeming characteristics to this guy. i had to find my way into that because every biography either is insanely defensive of him orville i fews them. >> rose: they were different in the voluming way which you know better than anybody. because on the one hand, aaron burr was amazing. he was cautious, careful, laid back, alexander
ãshow is at the moment when burr is finally reckless and lets go and hamilton is cautious and throws away his shot, one kills the other. and that is how they are remembered forever. >> one of the things we were -- and i think and hamilton knew they would be bound forever, and whether that would-- whether that would insurance his legacy of someone who then had to be spoken about. he had become slightly obsolete at this point. this is someone who had thought about death so often in his life and here he was towards the end, not empowered, not able to affect change in that way. and we talked very early on and i think again to the credit of the writing and leslie odom who plays burr, we said we have seen a lot of stories about two enemies who shoot at each other. let's make a story about two people who were very dear and complex friends and one of them kills his friend. >> soldiers, lawyers, statesmen together. they-- . >> rose: admiring of each
other. >> yeah. >> rose: you thought about playing burr. >> yeah, every time i wrote a burr song i said man, i should be this guy. i mean you know. >> rose: because he was the narrator or because -- >> because he gets all the best songs in the show. and as you will see, leslie is-- now you watch the show, you can't imagine me playing the role because it really fits leslie like a glove. but he gets these wonderful moments, you know. one of my favorite being the room where it happens, where he is talking about not being in power. and seeing hamilton trade away the capital in exchange for his financial plan and being like how am i not in this room. how am i not in the room where it happens. >> rose: take a look at this, this is you at the white house in 2009 performing the first rap song you wrote for hamilton. here it is. ♪ fourth son of a whore ♪ ♪ and a scotsman drops in the middle of the forgotten spot ♪ ♪ if the caribbean ♪ impoverished, in squalor, grow up to a hero and a scholar ♪ ♪ the $10 founding father
without a father ♪ ♪ got a lot farther by working a lot harder ♪ ♪ by being a lot smarter ♪ by being a self-starter ♪ by 14 they placed him in charge of the trade and charter ♪ ♪ and then-- being slaughtered and carted away across the waves, hamilton kept his guard up ♪ ♪ he was longing for something to be a part of ♪ ♪ the brothers-- ♪ then a hurricane came and it rained ♪ ♪ a man saw his future dripping down the drain ♪ ♪ he connected to his brain ♪ ♪ he wrote his first refrain of his pain ♪ ♪ word got around ♪ they said this kid is ♪ took up a collection to send him to the mainland ♪ ♪ get your education ♪ don't forget from where you came ♪ ♪ and the world is going to know your name ♪ ♪ what's your name. >> alexander ham toil-- hamilton ♪ ♪ his name is alexander hamilton. there are a million things he hasn't done ♪ ♪ but just you wait
♪ just you wait ♪ he was ten his father split, full of it, debt ridden, two years later alex and his mother bedridden half dead ♪ ♪ sitting alex got better but his mother went quick ♪ ♪ moved with a cousin. the cousin committed suicide ♪ ined pride ♪ith nothing but ♪omething new inside ♪ alex you got to fend for yourself ♪ ♪ he started retreating and reading ♪ ♪ there was nothing left to do for someone ♪ ♪ we have been dead and destitute without a sense of restitution ♪ ♪ started working, clerking for his late mother's landlord trading sugar cane ♪ ♪ all the things he can't afford ♪ ♪ every book he can get his hands on ♪ ♪ planning for the future ♪ see him now as he stands on the bow of the ship ♪ ♪ headed for a new land ♪ to new york, you can be a new man ♪ ♪ the ship is in the harbor now ♪ ♪ see if you can spot him
♪ another immigrant coming up from the bottom ♪ ♪ his enemies destroyed ♪ i'm the damn fool that shot him ♪ ♪. >> rose: there you go. that's unbelievable. >> right. >> rose: could this ever have been done, i mean it's almost like if they didn't have their-- it had to be invented and created for this. >> oh, wow, thank you, that means a lot. >> there is a lot of-- i think the score is both a lev letter to both hip-hop and musical theater there are a lot of references to both embedded throughout but you're right t is this heightened language and we learned really early on in the process of making it that any time we dip mood ode speech, into proceeds, energy just kind of went out. like we kind of had this ball we throw in the air so high at the top with this opening number that we kind of have to keep it at that level, a lot of the show. and there are a lot of times when we take musical breaks and slow it down and speed it back up again. but this heightened language seemed to be the only way to sort of convey hamilton's
worldview. >> rose: did you once say that hamilton reminded you of tupac. >> yeah, yeah. i think he-- in that he embodies so many contradictions. he is both thoughtful and boys trusion. he is both brilliant and self-destructive. in certain ways. you know, he would get into fights that in retrospect why are you fighting with that guy. and that is what i think when i think about tupac's life who was so brilliant and embodied so many different things to so many different people. i think hamilton carries that many contradictions with him. >> rose: eugene o'neill is one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century. he is the only american dram test to have won the nobel prize for literature, called the father of american theater paving the way for arthur miller, tennessee williams and tony kushner, "the iceman cometh" is one of his most powerful plays. o'neill described it as a big kind of comedy that doesn't stay funny very
long. joining me now are two tony award-winning actors at the centre of this production. nathan lane who plays hickey and decline dennehy who plays larry slade. i'm pleased to have them at the table. welcome. >> thank you, always a pleasure. >> rose: there is a story that i read that you saw that this production was going to take place and you said this is right for me. i want to be hickey. and you notified the director. >> well, yes, there was-- it actually started with ken branaugh who said to me you know, nathan, you can't just talk about these great parts. you have to do them. and he said-- . >> rose: did you say to ken i've never thought of that. >> and he said if you do, you will learn a great deal and it will be life changing. and it doesn't matter what anyone says. and then i read an interview ten years later, i read an interview in variety with brian and bob falls and they were skrusing potentially maybe revisiting "the iceman
cometh". they had done it in 1990 together when brian played hickey very, very successfully. >> rose: o'neill character brian hasn't played yet. >> i don't think there is he has played most of them and quite brilliantly. and so when i heard them discussing this and with brian taking on the role of larry slade this time, i wrote an e-mail to bob falls even though i didn't know him very well to say i would love to play hickey and here's my reasoning. and fortunately he responded positively and we got together and started discussing how we could do it. >> rose: how do you see hickey? >> well, you know, when i read the play when i was a kid, when i had gotten the collection of eugen o'neill plays and i read the ice machine cometh, i was drawn to the character of hickey because of the description that o'neill writes, that
sounded a little like me. he was-- he describes him as short and rolly poley with a button nose and a twinkle in his eye. you know he always writes these very long descriptions of characters, rather too specific for everyone to live up to. but what he created, i thought and what i was bringing up to bob in my e-mail was you know, it's defined by jason robards. he was the gold standard and he and quinn taro in 1956 when they did the revival off broadway defined who that character is. and it was a very dark, much darker than say the original production in 1946. and jason brought this sort of mischievous malevolence and kind of an otherworldly quality to it. and i was saying to bob, wouldn't it be interesting taking what o'neill has said
about him, the notion is he loves these guys. and just as he, you know, he ultimately says he killed his wife, that it was an act of mercy out of love, he has come to help them. and change their lives and bring them peace. unfortunately, it's-- he feels the only way to do that is for them to kill their illusions, their pipe dreams as they are so often called. so i thought it has to come out of that. it has to come out of love. and not that he's trying to destroy them but he's trying to help them. and in a way that's pore disturbing. and the fact that it is a joyous thing when he arrives. and that it's so off-putting that this person that they loved so much is driving them to this-- to do this thing. and for him it's sort of he is in a kind of semi dilutional state. and he feels that this
is-- this last act which will, i don't think bring him an sol use but it is a way to prove to him ando himself that he what de was right. of course ultimately his pipe dream is that he did this out of love and that --. >> rose: he's doing it for them. >> yeah. >> rose: is this a different hickey than you conceived when you played hickey? >> oh yeah. i mean every great-- role, it's interesting. when i started working all i know was jason rob ards along with everybody else. and so when we started rehearsal and this is a long time ago, almost 30 years ago, i guess. i said i'm just going to do jason robards. it was not so easy to do. and finally i realized that after a few weeks of coming
up with bad jason robards experiences, i said no, i can't do that. and i came up with the happiest guy in the world, this sony salesman of death. and big smiles all the time and big hearty laugh and slowly it becomes obvious to the audience and to the people on stable that this guy is selling something that's not quite as advertised. but. >> rose: but is he selling it out of love? >> sure. i mean he-- it there is an interesting discussion that goes on constantly with people like ourselves who deal with this play and these characters. just how crazy is he. is he crazy enough to know exactly what he's doing in terms of embracing his craziness or is he not crazy. >> well, it's interesting. he sort of compartmentalizes
all of these things. he knows he has to turn himself in. he knows he's going to make a phone call to the police. he knows that. he knows what he did was wrong technically, you know, that shooting your wife in the back of the head in the middle of the night, that's technically wrong. and he knows he must be punished and ultimately that's what he really wants. he wants to be punished. this is what he always wanted from his wife. but she wouldn't. she kept forgiving him. and it is this sort of unhealthy codependent relationship where she keeps forgiving him and he does love her. that's the other theme of the play. if the one theme is a man cannot live without his illusions, the other theme is how does love and hate coexist in a person. >> the interesting thing, the only way, the only thing, can stop her from forgiving him is to make sure she's dead. otherwise she would forget
him. before you pull the trigger, i forgive you. >> but it is about-- it's an unraveling. in the fourth act when he famously recounts, in order to prove to the group that he was right, he recounts his life story and leading up to the night of the murder. and as he's going along, he doesn't-- he wasn't planning on telling this story but then he has to. he's driven to do this, to prove to them. and these revelations start happening. and it's like a therapy session. someone says tell me your life story. and you start. and you start to talk about things that you didn't expect to talk about. and then it takes you someplace else. and it takes you. and you think maybe i was wrong about that. and maybe i was wrong about this. and then as it slowly-- he slowly starts to unravel as he's revealing more and more about this awful, his own self-loathing and his shame about what he did to her.
and i think you know, he finally convinced himself that that was the answer. i mean it's like a story you would read in the "new york post". and you would say do you believe this happened. and yet it did because you know, we're human. >> rose: has doing this done all the things for you that ken said it would do for you? >> without a doubt. without a doubt, he was right. it was prophetic. >> rose: but that was ten years ago. >> yes, yes, well, it took awhile to get me to chicago. and to get this, look, i instigated the whole thing. and i was-- you know, fortunately it was a huge success in chicago which lead to us doing it at at the perfect venue, the harvey theater and this extraordinary company, we must talk about this, this extraordinary company of ackers that charles
discussed it is a remarkable group of people. and i think that's what is also making this so special. but yes, it has lived up to those expectations and more. it has changed me. >> rose: you want more. >> well, sure. who wouldn't. i mean you know, you know, i know there are certain-- look, anyone in show business, there are certain preconceptions about them. we think we know them because of some two or three things they did that were successful and oh that's the person i know. and i felt at my age that i needed, that i had more to offer. and wanted to chall ing -- challenge myself and i certainly wanted to do it with bob and brian. i knew that's the way to do it. >> rose: here's what bob says about you. it is a mark of brian that he sort of moved through these o'neill roles and he knew he was the right age for slade. >> yeah, i guess. he is referring to the british system whereby the
brits start out playing a young man part and moving up and doing the same thing over and over again. and i guess it's true. i feel very comfortable with larry slade. especially since he sits on his ass throughout the whole play and doesn't move, tries to keep the circulation moving. but it's a really interesting, complicated part. >> rose: character. >> and many ways it's as complicated if not more so than hickey. because although hickey has all the hard-- to do, larry has got some stuff to work out, especially with the kid. an it's a similar situation. it's a parallel track except in larry's case he finds out that the real generous thing to do is to make sure that this kid kills himself which he assists him in doing. we're talking about o'neill
world here. >> rose: a dark world. >> very much so. what is really interesting about the darkness of it, it was written about the same time he was writing the family play. which was apparently an ordeal for him, very, very difficult in california. and he wrote a letter to a friend in new york said i have had to stop work on the family play, it's much too complicated. i'm suffering. i have to do something different. so i'm writing something now which really makes me laugh every day. i'm having the most wonderful-- and -- >> well, he did love these guys. this was at a point in his life when he was in his early 20s and he attempted suicide in this place, the that harry hope saloon is based on, that and the golden swan which had a back room called the hell hole. and these guys saved his life. the character based on, the character jimmy tomorrow, a
scottish reporter who saved his life when he attempted suicide. so i think that was always in the back of his head to write this play about this group of men, most of the characters in the play are based on real people that he knew. >> rose: . >> and lived with except for hickey actually am and then he was-- did you know he was reading, neisch carrying around the birth of tragedy. >> rose: while writing this. >> yeah. i think he was-- obviously it's influenced by other plays by the wild duck and lower depth but yeah, neisch was a huge influence on this play. >> rose: did you do all this insight into o'neill after you got the part or were these things you had been interested in and curious all along and had been studying. >> well, i was interested in the play. and then as, when i knew i was going to do it, the year before i started doing a lot of research about the play.
>> rose: once you naw you were going to do it. >> yeah. >> rose: they say to do o'neill is tough like climbing mount everest. >> who says that. >> rose: you don't think that's true. >> of course it's true. of course it is. >> rose: do you know why you get there some nights and don't and can you predict it. >> why you get into the zone. >> rose: yeah. >> because you said some nights you can't get there. >> you see where the zone is and you get there a little more technically. that i don't know why because it's not-- it's not science. it's just human chemicals you're pouring in. and as much as you prepare, sometimes there is some-- you're in a very specific moment, a quiet moment and someone in the audience goes-- and that can-- you know, that can throw you. but that's what live theater is about, you have to-- it's
about trying to keep a large group of people from coughing. as someone once said famously am you know, it's about concentration and focus and hopefully-- . >> rose: did you prepare more for this than anything you have ever done. >> without question. >> . >> rose: woe wo question, because it was a leap. >> it's a huge leap for anyone, even your most serious of actors. this is a degree of difficulty that is up there with-- am. >> the other thing too along those lines is that he is not the most adept writer of phrases. he'll back up on himself on a phrase, it doesn't necessarily come out as easily as it should. mary mccarthy who was a famous critic for "the new yorker" back in the '40s and who was the curse of a lot of playwrights always said the same thing about o'neill, as she did about drieser and
some others. that they were not good writers but they were great writers. meaning that they were not particularly-- fassel with the language or the characters and the verbs and the knowns, in a way for example that say updike was. >> rose: well, they were great at understanding the human condition. >> well, they insisted, certainly o'neill did, insisted on going to the deepest darkest parts. arthur miller who i was privileged to work with, we talked about the differences between a lot of these playwrights. and he always said that o'neill was the deepest diver and that he wasn't interested in-- he was interested in the soul. >> rose: thank you for coming. >> thank you for having me. >> rose: thank you brian, pleasure. >> thanks. >> rose: bill nighy is hear, the british tabloids dubbed
him the thinking well's trumpet. his career spanned several decades in television, film and theater. let me ask about three relationships, okay? first is michael gambon, what is your relationship with him,. >> michael gambon, when i was young, he used to creep up hine me in the canteen of the national theater and say something toso profane that i can't possibly repeat it. but the-- it was encouraging. he with say something good. he had seen me in a play and said something good. and that would get me through the next 18 months. he was the one i saw up ahead who i responded to. he was a modern actor, a contemporary actor. >> rose: what does that mean? >> it manies that he wasn't -- somehow he wasn't condition fined by any of the conventions of performing that were around at the time. he was kind of ready call in d apart of the fact that he is touched by genius, i
mean i know that's the cliche of off cliches but i feel it to be true. and he has thrilled me. and when i first saw "slylight", for instance, which he created this role, i kind of sword fenced all the way home. when you were a kid and you saw a sword fencing movie or went to see a gangster movie you would jump over t was exactly like that. i was thrilled and i remember feeling obscurely proud that i did the same job an those people, my next person is david hare what is it about you two. >> it is the great good fortune of my career is my association with david hare. it started when i was 30 and en i read the first thingh that i ever read by david hare it kinds of rang in me in a way that i think with great writing or great art, it often does. which it was almost as if it were familiar to me. it was as if if you had given me time i would have
got around to saying those things. it chimed in terms of its-- of it's kind of attitude to the world with things that i was already thinking am but the elegance and the beauty and the wit, he writes the best jokes in town, was something that was very, very kind of familiar to me am and it was very-- it was the first time i had read a contemporary script where it really blew me away. and that association, i mean david counted recently and i think it's ten, we've done ten things together now. and i treasure that. >> rose: on the stage, theatre, film and television. >> yeah. >> rose: some ackers tell me that they-- they readily accept a part if its scares them. >> yeah. well, yeah. i mean when i was younger i used to turn them down. if they were scary, turn them down. and i would invent some fancy reason for turning them down. but in fact it was just-- then i got real and i started to take jobs which apparent leigh i had invented as
apparent leigh out of my range. and then so things started-- . >> rose: what is an exam aisle-- example of that. >> "slylight" is a pretty good example, i had turned it down three times, because hi seen michael gambon play it, one of the greatest things i had ever seen as i said. i would turn it down with my agent and dave hare would call me personally and i would hear the sound of his advice and a okay, okay, okay, i'm coming. with dow want me. >> rose: i thought you were going to say something like if if david hare called me i woon take the call. >> no, no. i would take the call and then he would say what was all that about. i don't know, i'm coming, where do you want me, when do i have to be there. and that happened with "slylight" because i thought, you know, you have got to be kidding, in those days. >> rose: why would you do it again? if you have already done it. >> i did it again because this is a question to which i don't absolutely know the answer. but i will speculate. one is that i wanted to do a play and there aren't many plays that i want to do.
it's a great role. i wanted to do it originally in new york. i figured that justified it because i had only ever done it in london. then it turned out people couldn't do that. so i did it in london which was wonderful. i loved the play with all my heart. i think it's a brilliant thing in the world it hadn't been produced majorly for a long time. david had kind of protected it. and you know, i love it. so i figured. >> rose: what do you love about it? >> i love the fact that it's-- it's funny in a way that i find heartbreaking. it's-- i love the way that the broader issues are perfectly and invisibly integrated into the story of two people trying to come to terms with one another on a personal level. i love the fact that it's like a-- it's built like a bomb, it's like a clock. it's beautifully put
together so that it unlocks something in the audience so they go away hopefully full of hope and about personal relations and indeed about things more universal. i think it's one of the rare occasions where those two things are beautifully integrated, as i said. >> rose: you didn't want to do it because of michael -- michael gambon if i watch a performance by him or by you do i see -- >> well, yeah t with be different, i guess. it's a long time ago. so i can't really remember am and i can't remember may 1st performance of it either. so i have fond memories of the people involved and a lot of the off stage stuff but i can't actual leigh recall much about the performance. so i'm not repricing anything. it's not like what i imagine opera is right where you have it in your head an turn up and deliver. it's a brand-new production and steven doddry who say brilliant and wonderful man and sensational director has
really differed something beautiful, and the set, everyone will tell you t is one of the post beautiful sets i have ever seen in my life. it's a beautiful pec age, you foe. >> rose: how could you say no. >> well, quite, everything was attractive. scott and robert, my favorite producers, paul on the sound is a genius, natasha klein who lit it, it's just bathed in intelligent light as i like to quip with her. everything about it is just beautiful. >> rose: you say to her bathe me in intelligent light. >> i didn't actually ask for it but that is what she z and sassoon as carey mulligan became involved it is for real. >> rose: case closed. >> issues's completely and utterly britiant and i love her with all my heart. just to get it out quick, put it out there so everybody's clear. she's just an assassin. >> rose: i think so. roll tape. take a look at this. ♪ you used to tell me that you had this great gift. i remember you prided yourself in what you called your man management skills.
and yet you still treat people as though they were no better than -- >> they demanded a driver, that's what he does. you know full well that drivers done drav. the greater part of their lives she spend waiting. >> it's what they expect. frack for a start is very well paid. he's sitting in a spacious limousine listening to kiss 100 and reading what is politely called a men's interest magazine. >> you have seen the weather. have you seen the snow about to come down. >> don't give pe all that. frack has a better time sitting in a warm mercedes than he would be in -- first of all you call -- this is it, this is the problem. this ridiculous self-riotousnes- it is only going to get worse once -- >> nothing to do with my teaching. it has nothing to do with the work that i do.
it's a way of respecting people. >> frack isn't people. >> frack isn't people. frack is a man doing a jock. these stupid gestures, nothing to do with what people might want. they want to be treated, respected for the job they are paid for, not looked down on as if they were cronically disabled, as if they somehow needed help. this was the whole trouble with business in you. you look down always on the way we did things. on the way things are done am you could never accept the nature of business, finally that's why you had to leave. >> well, i must say. >> i mean. >> i never naw that was the reason. >> all right, i'm sorry. >> i never knew that was why i had to leave. >> i put it badly. >> badly? you did. i thought i left because your wife discovered i had been sleeping with you for over six years. >> i mean well, yes, that as well, that played a part. >> rose: carey mulligan is here currently in broadway
in david hare skylight lite. her costart said she's dead on, imago lat, impeccable. her performance lead to her first tony nomination along with six others for the play. david hare who is-- if this is his creation, said about you if i was starting a national theater with an d, i would start aroundvier her. that would be a nice adventure shall wouldn't it within that would be such a good adventure, yeah, i would do it david. if he asked. >> rose: what is it about david that made you want to do it with him. >> he is just such an extraordinary writer and just a wonderful person. we've had the privilege of getting to spend a lot of time with him on the play. he was around during rehearsals and previews and he is just brilliant. he's very of the writer on this project because we're working with the other director but he's just so giftedded at both. >> rose: what i love about him is the curiosity he has for the themes that he wants
to do. >> yeah. and he's -- i think that's why him and steven work together so well. they're both curious and owning all the time. even in sort of trivial conversation they're like that. >> rose: so you got steven to do this one. >> yeah, yeah. and haven't been done since bill did it. >> rose: when was that. >> 15 years ago, london, with michael gambon and leah williams an here with the same cast and bill did it in london. and then 15 years later we did it in london. >> rose: is this an instant yes when they called you? >> yes, yeah, it is. the script is just so, i wanted to do a play. i hadn't done a play am i did an off broadway play in new york a few years ago which was an adaptation of ingmar bergman movie so, with david lavoe which was great, very dark and very difficult and i was just looking for the next play. and i always wanted to work with steven and i had never read "slylight".
and i started reading it and i read about ten pages and i thought i hope the rest of it is this good. i hope it doesn't get bad. and it kept getting better and better and better and by the end i was completely in heaven. >> rose: it was a character you loved. >> yeah, completely. >> rose: you have to like her. >> yeah, completely. and just to get to say, you know, it's great, truly great writing. and that's the kind of writing you can do for 12 weeks in london and broadway and never tire of because there is some of to it. >> rose: is it different in london versus new york? >> yeah, it is, yeah. i mean it's a british play with a lot of british references and definitely the audience here react differently which is interesting. >> rose: so tell the story about tom and what their-- whats is the back story. >> so they met when keira was 18, my character is sell and he was a restaurateur in london married with children. and she started working for him and his family and his restaurant chain. and after a couple of years, she went to university and came back they started a
relationship which lasted for six years, which his wife didn't know about. and after that six years, his wife discovered and she left. and so you are meeting them now three years after that happened. and they're seeing each other for the first time. >> rose: keira left. >> and the wife and they stayed together. >> rose: and then she died. >> and she died. >> rose: and he ends up at your doorstep. >> yes, on a cold night. >> rose: and you had a kind of drafty apartment. >> yes, yeah. he is sort of living in a monday as particular lifestyle. >> rose: is she on the rebound or just simply found something that she can engage. >> i think she has found what shi wants to do with her life. i think initially probably it was a reaction to the lifestyle that she had with him which was affluent and privileged and in the chelsea world in long done and she went the other direction. but actually in that she found what she really wants to do with her life. >> rose: and then he shows up. >> and questions every
single part of it. laboriously for hours. >> rose: and what are the possibilities for her when he shows up? >> i think initially there is a possibility of them being together, yeah. >> rose: he spends the night. >> he spends the night and there's the possible of a rereunion but i think he always held at arm's length the whole way through the play and as the play develops you see ultimately what it is that keeps them and will keep them apart. >> rose: why did she not want to reignite the relationship? >> because-- because she-- . >> rose: . >> because ultimately i think he broke her trust and broke it in such a significant way and that she had her heart completely broken and she would never be able to trust them again and she fundamentally knows that is true. he fact that he had broken her trust last time, he still had that in him.
>> that he was still capable of that. there was no sick change in him. i mean some of of what is so great about the play is that you see some of of the history and so much nostalgia for what they used to have and they still have it but it also means they haven't really changed. and to a degree she hasn't either and they can't compromise it is sort of a mix between lovely memories and also being in the exact same place they used to be. >> rose: here is a scene with you and bill cooking chili, here it is. what? no, really what are you thinking. >> are you putting the chili in first? no, it's just-- i usually, i fry the chili so it infuses the oil is. (laughter) >> aha!. i see, i don't do that. i am doing it the way i
prefer. >> rose: . >> that noise that he makes brings the house down every night. >> rose: this is when she is explaining her choice of apartment, roll tape. >> i have to tell you this place is really quite reasonable. >> oh, really. >> as it happens i get it at a very cheap rent. >> i should hope so! >> the fact is you have lost all sense of reelted. this place isn't special, it's not emly horrible. this is how everyone lives. >> please, please, let's be serious. >> no, i mean it. this is interesting. this is the halfway. it wasn't until i left your restaurant, the car patchio and ri cotta stuffed restaurant of yours t wasn't until i deserted that chelsea milieu. >> my memory you laked it pretty well. >> i do like it, yes, that is not something i would ever deny but it wasn't until i got out of your limousine, until i left that warm bubble of money and good taste where you exist.
>> thank you. >> that i remember that most people live in a way which is all together different. >> well, of course. >> and you have no right to look down on that right. >> you're right. >> thank you. >> of course, that's right. however, in one thing you are different, i do have to say, keira, in one thing you're different from everyone else in this part of town. >> how is that. >> you are the only person who fought so hard to get into it while everyone else is desperate to get out. >> rose: thank you, great to see you again. >> thank you. sit us crop line atpisodes pbs.org and charlie rose.com captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
report" with tyler mathisen and sue herera. >> harrowing and historic. tumultuous move on wall street. the dow plummeting 1,000 points in early trading sending the s&p 500 into correction territory. economic shift, how the violence swings in the stock market may be i am mpacting the thinking ae feds. >> it's making me very nervous. i'm approaching retirement age and my husband is already retired. scary. >> reality check. money moves you should consider if you're retiring or nearing retirement and concerned about the market. all of that and more tonight on "nightly business report" for monday, august 24th. good evening, everyone. welcome. i'm sue